From Climate and Capitalism: Evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace explains the tight links between new viruses, the epidemiologically dangerous methods of industrial food production, and corporate profits. “To understand why viruses are becoming more dangerous, we must investigate industrial models of agriculture and livestock production. But, few governments, and few scientists, are prepared to do so.”
farmers & farming
From Wired: It’s the worst locust outbreak to strike Africa in decades, and Pakistan and India’s border states too have been badly affected. And the problem is about to get a lot worse—the insect population could boom by a factor of 500 by June. Unlike other species, a rapidly-warming planet present an advantage to locusts.
“This plan has multiple win-wins: Improvement in soil and water quality, higher incomes for farmers, reduced malnutrition and obesity, and a simple solution to India’s water problem by drastically reducing use of water in agriculture.” Also watch: ‘Bringing the Science Back Into Water: A New Paradigm for 21st Century India,’ a talk by Mihir Shah.
From Down to Earth: India is going through one of the worst farm crisis in its history. To understand about this crisis we have to investigate the roots of the celebrated Green Revolution and what happened after that. This is the story of Jaunty, the village which was once the flagbearer of the Green Revolution.
Influential natural farming advocate Subhash Palekar recently approved the use of Genetically Modified crops in his well-known “Zero Budget Natural Farming-ZBNF” method. In an equally startling interview, he described organic farming as “worse than the atom bomb.” Here, two veteran practitioners respond to Palekar, while reviewing the history of the Organic/Natural Farming movement in India.
From The Wire: This specific patch of some 1,000 acres near Dargah Honnur village in Anantapur district –once covered by millet cultivation– has over many decades become more and more a desert. That has been driven by often paradoxical factors –and created the kind of space that filmmakers send out location scouts to look for.
From Trophic Tales: The focus on the welfare of individual domesticated animals might be an extension of the modernist tendency to simplify and discriminate. The morality of living, eating, and dying is more complex than two-word slogans can prescribe. If we care about animals —wild or domesticated— we’ve to think in terms of entire ecosystems.
From The Guardian: Cancer rates are the highest in the country, drug addiction is rife, and 900 farmers have killed themselves in two years. How did Punjab turn toxic? A new film explores the roots of its problems; ‘Toxification’ tells the moving stories of farmers at the sharp end of the chemical epidemic engulfing Punjab.
David R. Montgomery writes: Conventional wisdom says that fertile soil is not renewable. That’s not really true. Fertility can be improved quickly through cover cropping and returning organic matter to the land. Soil-building is about getting the biology, mineral availability, and organic-matter balance right, rolling with the wheel of life instead of pushing against it.
From IndiaSpend.com: Fifteen of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in India, according to an analysis of air quality in several cities around the world by IQAir Group. Gurugram, in Haryana, topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 g/m3 (micrograms/cubic metre), in 2018.
Devinder Sharma writes: If raising productivity is the major factor I see no reason why Punjab farmers should be committing suicide. But the fact that economists don’t want to acknowledge is that it is actually the low price that farmers being deliberately paid that is the primary reason for the terrible agrarian crisis that prevails.
It’s been five years since the passing of G. Nammalvar, the icon of sustainable farming who died on December 30, 2013, while leading a campaign against the plan to extract methane gas in Cauvery delta. An agriculture scientist, he left his job and travelled across Tamil Nadu spreading the message of organic farming using story-telling.
From Vox.com: Sri Lanka is perhaps the most famous case of suicides falling after a selective pesticide ban. One study estimated that the suicide rate in the country fell by half after it banned certain pesticides in 1995. According to the World Health Organization, at least 110,000 people commit suicide by consuming pesticides each year.
This manifesto was adopted by an assembly representing the farmers of India on the occasion of the historic Kisan Mukti March organised by AIKS at Delhi, on 30 November 2018. Over the past 25 years, more than 3,00,000 of India’s debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide, a crisis which successive governments have done little to address.
From The Telegraph: India’s farmers are marching once again to demand that Parliament discuss the agrarian crisis. The underlying message is simple. If over 3,00,000 debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide in the past 25 years, then the agrarian crisis is no longer an economic one. It’s a moral crisis. It cannot be allowed to continue.
From The Business Standard: “Selected companies like Reliance, Essar have been given the task of providing crop insurance. In just one Maharashtra district, where the soya crop failed, Reliance earned a net profit of Rs 143 crore without investing a single rupee. Now, multiply this amount to each of the districts it has been entrusted.”
This is a snapshot of a fleeting encounter between a Karnataka farmer and a water activist at the premises of a leading agricultural university. In a few painful sentences, it captures the everyday desperation that is the lot of the average Indian farmer, caught between an unraveling climate, a ruthless market and a malignant state.
From The Sunday Guardian: The Delhi metropolitan area has one of the world’s highest concentrations of population, and suffocating people here on an annual basis should be treated as a crime against humanity, especially when it can be controlled. Arvind Kumar writes on the connection between USAID, Monsanto and Delhi’s nightmarish annual air pollution spike.
From The Indian Express: The residents of St. Estevam say they took to farming more due to fear of gated communities encroaching upon farmland. Nine months after the idea was mooted at the community level, this pilot project is now being tracked by the state government, which plans to take this experiment to every village.
From Non-gmoreport.com: The most disturbing finding of the study was the epigenetic effects of atrazine; which means its not just those who are exposed to it that faced health risks, but also their descendants. Dr. Winchester calls the discovery of this link between pesticides and epigenetic changes “the most important next discovery in all medicine.”